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Mental health and wellbeing during pregnancy

Mental health and emotional wellbeing are important when you’re having a baby.

Mum looking out the window with hand on pregnant belly

Expecting parents can experience a lot of conflicting feelings as they start the journey to having a baby. There might be excitement and joy, but also worry or uncertainty. There are many physical changes to get used to, including hormonal surges that may trigger huge emotion and mood swings. There are also other potentially stressful adjustments to make.

“I faced an incredible amount of stress throughout the pregnancy. My anxiety grew day by day.”


Pregnancy is a time of big changes, all happening simultaneously. Looking after your emotional and mental wellbeing is just as important as taking care of your physical health during this time.

No matter how much we think we’re prepared, lots of things can happen at this time to upset our sense of self-identity, our relationships and career, and feelings about the future once baby arrives.

It’s not just people who are pregnant who experience these changes – every day we speak to non-birthing parents who are adjusting to massive changes during pregnancy too.

“When our second kid came along, even during the pregnancy, I became really anxious about everything.”


Risk factors for antenatal anxiety and depression

Antenatal anxiety and depression are common mental health conditions affecting up to 1 in 5 women during pregnancy, and up to 1 in 10 men. Perinatal mental health issues affect people from all walks of life, regardless of age or personal history.

Many people experience mental health decline during pregnancy who have minimal or no risk factors. Yet some people have increased vulnerability to developing symptoms of antenatal anxiety and depression.

These factors include:

  • Unplanned pregnancy
  • History of mental ill-health
  • Being a survivor of abuse or trauma
  • Previous conception/pregnancy complications
  • Lack of support (including partners, families and social networks)
  • Pre-existing health conditions
  • Stressful life events
  • Absence of own or parental figure/s

Many expecting parents experiencing these risk factors navigate pregnancy and the transition into parenthood with relative ease. Yet we know that many others find these adjustments challenging and experience symptoms of antenatal anxiety or depression.

If you think you might be experiencing symptoms of antenatal anxiety or depression – or are simply concerned about what you are feeling – seek help as early as you can. Help might be speaking with someone you trust, chatting to a member of your antenatal care team, or calling PANDA for information and support.

Helpful Information

Mum and dad holding baby looking uneasy
Perinatal anxiety and depression: Signs and symptoms
Read More


Mental health and wellbeing during pregnancy
PANDA National Helpline

Find someone to talk to, Monday to Saturday.

1300 726 306

Call 000 for police and ambulance if you or someone else are in immediate danger

Talk with friends or family

Consider talking about how you are feeling with someone you trust. This might be a friend or family member. Once you starting talking you might be surprised at how many others have had similar experiences and the support they can provide you.

Talk with your doctor

Talking with your doctor can be an important step to getting the help you need. They should be able to give you non-judgemental support, assessment, diagnosis, and ongoing care and treatment. They can also refer you to specialists such as a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist.

Get help now

If you are having suicidal thoughts or are feeling disorientated it’s important to get help immediately. PANDA is not a crisis service, if you need immediate support call Lifeline 13 11 14 (24/7).


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Everyone’s experience of pregnancy, birth and parenting is unique and brings different rewards and challenges. Our mental health checklist can help you to see if what you’re experiencing or observing in a loved one could be a reason to seek help.